Written by Sébastien Lachaussée
& Marta Monjanel
India is the first film producing country in the world with on average 1200 movies per year while France produces on average 230 movies per year.
This important number of productions is due to the diversity of languages and the variety of cultural references existing in India. The Indian cinema had a dazzling ascent that began in the 50’s, notably thanks to Satyajit Rai films (who received an Oscar in 1992 for his whole career). Face to the success of cinematographic industry, the Cinematography Act had been promulgated in 1952 and the Indian federal government had created the Festival Film of India. In 1975, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) had been setting up, it’s an organism which has to finance Indian authors films and also regional film for the purpose of promoting Indian cinema.
However, the Indian market is hard for the foreign distributors. There are around twenty-two official languages in India which means that distributors have to dub into these languages even if films are mainly dubbed in English, Indi, Bengali and Tamil. For example, the film “Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra” had been dubbed in these four languages thanks to the Support Funds set up by the French embassy in New Delhi. Furthermore, since the Cinematography Act’s promulgation, all films have to be approved by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). This committee has the right to censure foreign film scenes if it considers that they are against the interests of the Indian sovereignty, integrity, security or if they threaten to law and order, the decency and moral code. This is how in 2003, the distributor of the film “Swimming pool” directed by François Ozon had to delete more than 13 minutes of the movie, and because of this deletion, it was difficult to understand the film’s plot. Finally, the Indian public has different expectations than the occidental public for movies’ plots, that’s why owners of theatres prefer to count on Indian Films because they are sure to get a larger public.
Nevertheless, French-Indian coproduction aims to be developed thanks to two mechanism: the new aid granted by CNC and the coproduction agreement of December,6th, 2010.
I –World Cinema French support
Previously, CNC granted a support named "Fond Sud" to promote movies directed in Africa, in the Middle East, Asia and then India. But this support had been closed at the end of the year 2011. In May 2012, the new fund named “World cinema support” appeared and it is dedicated to international co-productions. The first call for applications had been successful, more than 90 files from 45 countries had been applied.
Its objective is to facilitate associations between foreign directors and French professionals, making such partnership more open and attractive, with a view to co-producing projects that would promote cultural diversity.
The file has to be applied by a production company established in France that is already bound by a coproduction’s agreement with a foreigner production company. Nevertheless, producers of some countries (but not India) can directly apply without French producer.
These subsidies are granted to foreign feature-length film (more than one hour) of all kinds (animation, fiction, documentary) to which first show would be in cinema theatres.
This fund is granted as a subsidy either before or after completion of a project. Post-filming subsidies must be applied for by the French production company and are only applicable to projects rejected by the plenary committee meeting on pre-filming subsidies.
There are several requirements for a project to be eligible: the film must be a co-production between a production company established in France and one that is not, the French producer must get the authors rights, the movie must be directed by a non-French director and must be shot abroad. Furthermore, the language in which it is filmed may be the official or commonly-used language(s) of the foreign country of which the director is a national or it may also be the language(s) of the territory where the film is shot.
The pre-filming subsidies must be applied before the start of any filming. The Producer can’t accrue this subsidy with advance on earning also granted by CNC
The Projects are examined at three stages: first by the reading committee, then by the plenary committed which decides whether the projects should be supported or not and finally by the assessment committee (Presidents of CNC and French Institute) which sets the aid amount.
Once the subsidy is granted, an agreement will be settled between CNC and French production company after delivery of a file including all financial elements of the project. This agreement will set terms of payment and of repayment. There is a ceiling of 250.000 euros for pre-filming subsidy and of 50.000 euros for post-filming subsidy.
The amount awarded may not exceed 50% of the funding provided by the French co-producer.
Between 50% and 75% of the aid granted must be spent by the production company established in France. An additional 25% of the aid granted must be spent by the foreign production company for projects co-produced with countries that have weak film industries.
All production’s and post production’s expenses on French territory and all shooting expenses on foreign territory are eligible.
II – Agreement of co-production between France and India
The first agreement regarding the cinema industry between France and India was signed on January, 16th, 1985. But the requirements were quite strict so for that reason, France and India signed a new coproduction cinematographic agreement. This agreement has for purpose to create a legal framework between the two signatories’ countries, which guarantee them to see their films considered as national movie in both countries.
Article 1 of the treaty specifies that all genre of full-length films are included, the only requirement is that the first showing has to be theatrical. To be considered as a coproduction, producer(s), director(s), technical and artistic staffs have to have either French or Indian nationality and the script has to take place in France or India. The minimum participation required from the producer is 20% in order to ensure a financial balance between both countries. This minimum participation can be reduce to 10% if the technical and artistic staffs are French or Indian. The benefit of this agreement eases the entry and the stay of the shooting staff on territory of each country and also importation and/or export of all material concerning the film.
To get the coproduction status, each producer must apply for authorization of coproduction to the competent national authority and join a file which includes coproduction agreement, coproduction calendar, synopsis of the film, budget, technical and artistic contribution list and all necessary documents to assess the project. In France, this application has to be made at CNC at the latest 4 months after the first show of the Film. In India this application has to be made at CBFC at the latest 4 months after the shooting in India.
In a first time, the competent national authority of the majority producer will give its response and then, in a second time, the competent national authority of the minority producer will be able to approve.
This agreement comes to reinforce the relation between France and Asia, indeed, France had signed another cinematographic coproduction Agreement before on May, 26th, 2010 with China.
Finally, India can’t be ignored as a partner for international coproduction. It’s a country where the labour force is skilled and not expensive. India also attracts famous productions as Walt Disney which announced an union with Yash Raj Films (producer and distributor in India) to coproduce together animation films in India.